The College of Optometrists

Disclosing information after death

You should treat patient information as confidential, even after a patient has died. Whether you disclose personal information and what personal information you disclose after a patient’s death will depend on the circumstances. If the patient had asked for information to remain confidential, you should respect their wishes. If you are unaware of the patient’s wishes, and are asked to disclose information, you should consider:
  • the purpose of the disclosure
  • whether the information is likely to benefit or cause distress to the patient’s family
  • whether the information is already in the public domain
  • whether the information can be anonymised.
Information must only be disclosed to someone who is authorised to receive it, such as the executor of the will. You should ask to see the patient’s death certificate before disclosing information.
There are exceptions to maintaining patient confidentiality after death, for example, if you are required to provide information by a court of law.

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